What The Healthcare.gov Debacle Teaches Us About How To Fix Government Software

Barun Singh | Fast Company | October 31, 2013

A single change--making development open source--could have saved the new site and might change the outcome of future projects.

Let's start off with the obvious: Healthcare.gov, as a web service, is a catastrophe.

Much has been written about CGI, the firm responsible for the site's backend code, and about the government's procurement process leading to CGI's selection. It is absurd that a project so vast--three years in the making with tens of millions spent already--could fail in such preventable ways.

The anger and frustration over the massive bungling of such a vital project threaten to make us lose proper perspective and learn the wrong lessons, however. So let's revisit the basics: What went wrong, how do we do better, and how do we think about government's fundamental capabilities?